Zobrist putting in extra work to combat slump

Zobrist putting in extra work to combat slump

NEW YORK -- Ben Zobrist took early batting practice with hitting coach Derek Shelton on Thursday afternoon, hours before the series finale with the Yankees. The slumping Rays slugger dropped below .200 in his final at-bat Wednesday night.

Zobrist hit from both sides of the plate for approximately 20 minutes.

"I'm just trying to slow down my body and use my hands more," Zobrist said. "I just feel like my body's getting in the way a little bit, so that's what we're working on, just getting the hands going."

Zobrist classified the major portion of the problem as a "feel thing."

"It's definitely a feel thing, that's a big part of it," Zobrist said. "You can see some of it on video. But overall, I just have to get my hands doing more of the work than what they've been doing."

Zobrist doesn't adhere to the philosophy that not thinking about a slump is the best way to get out of a slump.

"You have to think about it," Zobrist said. "You have to figure out what it is about your swing that doesn't feel right. Because if you don't feel right in the box, then it's going to be hard -- regardless of what pitch is thrown, it's going to be hard to hit it. You have to know that your swing is going to do what you want it to do."

Rays manager Joe Maddon does not believe Zobrist's slump is due to anything the opposing defense is doing in the way of shifts.

"I don't honestly think that's the problem," Maddon said. "You saw the last at-bat last night, pretty much out of the strike zone. Zobrist is really a disciplined hitter normally. And recently you've seen him outside of his zone. And I think that's a bigger problem."

Zobrist agreed that he's been expanding the strike zone.

"Yeah, I have," Zobrist said. "That's a result of not feeling comfortable with your swing. When you aren't comfortable, you feel like you have to get it going a little bit earlier, then you can't wait to see the pitch longer. When my swing feels right and quick, then I can wait and see the pitch. And then I can be more selective."